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Senator: WH looking to frighten Americans

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tells CNN's John Berman that President Trump and his administration "almost want there to be an immigration challenge," so they have an issue to frighten the American people with during the midterm elections.

Posted: Oct 20, 2018 12:14 AM
Updated: Oct 20, 2018 12:14 AM

President Donald Trump on Thursday seized on a new migrant caravan approaching the US to frame the midterm elections as a fight over border security while blaming Democrats, without evidence, of supporting the influx.

"It's going to be an election of the caravan," Trump said at a campaign rally in Missoula, Montana. "You know what I'm talking about."

In an extended riff about illegal immigration and the caravan, Trump told the crowd that Democrats were banking on the caravan to arrive before Election Day so they could vote for Democrats -- even though as asylum-seekers, they wouldn't be citizens and therefore would not be able to vote in the congressional elections.

"As you know, I'm willing to send the military to defend our southern border if necessary, all 'cause -- because of the illegal immigration onslaught brought by the Democrats because they refuse to acknowledge or to change the laws," he said. "They like it. They also figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat, you know. Hey, they're not so stupid when you think about it, right?"

Trump has repeatedly accused the Democrats of wanting "open borders," though he hasn't provided evidence for that claim. Although Democrats typically call for more relaxed policies toward undocumented immigrants, major party officials still advocate for some measure of regulation and security at the border. President Barack Obama was dubbed the "deporter in chief" among some immigrant advocacy groups for steps his administration took, and more than 2.4 million people were deported during his administration.

Responding to Trump's rally on Friday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, compared Obama's efforts to assist Central America to stem illegal immigration to Trump's actions.

"They almost want there to be an immigration challenge because they are looking for some way to create something to frighten the American people during an election," Merkley told CNN's John Berman "New Day."

Trump slams US laws

Trump also claimed that "if a foot hits the ground" -- if an undocumented immigrant sets foot on US soil -- the US is powerless to deport them, even though his administration has aggressively sent thousands of undocumented immigrants back to their home countries.

"A foot hits the ground -- you know, if a foot hits the ground, we're not allowed to say 'Hey, go back.' Every other country in the world, they say go back. 'Can't come in, sorry.' A foot hits the ground, we have to, by law, with these horrible people that are making their own rules having nothing to do with our Constitution," Trump said, apparently referring to Democrats.

"We have to take those people in even if they are criminals. And we have hardened criminals coming in. You think those people are perfect? They're not perfect. We have some bad people coming in, and by law, we have to take them in and then we have to -- it's called 'catch and release,' you ever hear this one?"

"Catch and release" refers to the fact that many undocumented immigrants end up living in the US for years because of a deeply backlogged immigration court system. When deportable immigrants are arrested, some go into mandatory detention but some must be released as the US can only physically detain about 40,000 immigrants at a time. Many immigrants deemed not to be flight risks and not dangerous have been released on their own recognizance or with monitoring technology.

Adding more immigration judges could alleviate the backlog, though Trump has questioned the process of immigrants going through the court system and has called for deportations without "judges or court cases."

At one point Thursday, Trump said he was "taking full blame" for illegal immigration because he has "created such an incredible economy" that was attractive to non-citizens.

An election about 'law and order'

This week, Trump, who has made combating illegal immigration a cornerstone of his political career, has pointed to the caravan making its way from Honduras as part of his efforts to galvanize Republicans ahead of the midterms.

He said Thursday the midterms represented "an election of (newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett) Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order, and common sense."

"That's what it's going to be," he said.

Trump has threatened on Twitter to cut money and aid to Honduras if the caravan was not "stopped and brought back" and has broadened his warnings to include other Central American nations as well.

The Honduran migrants, trekking in a caravan toward Mexico's southern border, say they're headed for the United States to flee violence and searching for economic opportunity. The US has leaned on Mexico to stop them before they reach the US border.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62199

Reported Deaths: 1753
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
Madison232460
Harrison222833
Rankin216830
Jackson206338
Jones180457
Forrest165353
Washington152433
Lauderdale135488
Lee127430
Neshoba123288
Lamar114613
Oktibbeha106036
Lowndes99932
Bolivar98732
Warren97630
Scott96219
Panola93611
Sunflower92623
Copiah92426
Lafayette88512
Leflore86660
Holmes85148
Pike84632
Grenada81621
Yazoo79311
Leake77125
Lincoln75641
Pontotoc7527
Wayne73621
Simpson72328
Monroe71650
Coahoma67710
Tate66524
Marion62519
Covington60112
Adams58725
Marshall5858
Winston58415
George5495
Union53814
Newton52611
Attala50224
Pearl River49637
Tallahatchie49610
Walthall46318
Chickasaw44319
Noxubee42611
Claiborne40113
Jasper3859
Smith38513
Calhoun3819
Clay37413
Alcorn3634
Prentiss3516
Hancock34414
Tishomingo3394
Itawamba31710
Tippah31612
Lawrence3155
Yalobusha31310
Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
Greene23211
Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
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